Medford charter school in midst of hiring spree

Administrators at Logos Public Charter School in Medford spent last weekend interviewing 25 potential new teachers, a response to enrollment that continues to increase since the school's inception.

The school already has decided to hire 12 of the teachers and may add a few more before school begins in the fall, according to administrator Joe VonDoloski.

Opened in the fall of 2010, the school grew from 200 to 350 students after its first year, and over the past year has risen to 700, according to VonDoloski.

"Now we're looking at an increase of about 100 to 200 more new students next year," said VonDoloski, who estimated the increase based on the number of students already registered and the assumption that more will trickle in over the summer.

The new hires bring the school's teaching staff to 54.

Although he was always optimistic about the school's success, VonDoloski admits that the constantly increasing enrollment is surprising even to him.

"We're building rooms and had to modify some classes," said VonDoloski, adding that the campus' Earhart Street location is nearing capacity.

Started as a way to offer more structure for the estimated 2,000 homeschooled students in Jackson County in 2010, Logos provides teachers who travel to the homes of students, while also providing on-site class options.

Most students complete work at home and supplement it with one or two on-site classes.

According to VonDoloski, the school helps homeschooling families organize tutors, get textbooks and materials, and provides resources for other homeschool activities in the area.

Logos is the second charter school formed in the Medford School District.

Waldorf-inspired Madrone Trail Public Charter School opened in 2007 as a K-2 school, and has added another grade each year since, with plans to stop expanding after students reach the eighth grade in 2013.

Oregon first passed a charter-school law in 1999, allowing organizations or groups of people to contract with their local school districts and form the schools.

Just a couple of years after the law passed, 17 charter schools had opened in Oregon, and 115 were operating in the 2011-12 school year.

"People are looking for more options," said VonDoloski. "I think the biggest thing is choice."

VonDoloski said Logos and other charter schools are able to offer more options to homeschoolers without forcing them into a traditional public school.

"There's a large group of homeschoolers in the valley, and we are appealing to them," said VonDoloski.

The school operates through the Medford School District, which receives 20 percent of the enrollment-based, per-pupil funding, while Logos receives the other 80 percent.

Next year, Logos will offer a handful of secondary students the opportunity to attend Rogue Community College full time, using dual enrollment to finish high school while earning college credit.

The school will fund the entire program, and seven juniors and seniors plan to participate, VonDoloski said.

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